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Destroying Strongholds: Smashing Thoughts That Bind Pt 6

Prayer matters. Prayer makes a difference. Prayer prepares the way. Prayer changes things. Prayer is powerful. Prayer is a weapon. Prayer breaks strongholds. Prayer is joining forces with God. Prayer brings blessing. Prayer releases life. Prayer brings heaven to earth. Prayer is a partner to action.

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This blog post is part 33 of the series Seven Invisible Barriers to Spiritual Growth.
To see all the posts in the series click here
.           To listen to the audio version click here.

Praying Purposefully

Charles Finney, Daniel Nash, and Abel Clary understood and implemented the power of prayer.

Finney was one the voices of the Second Great Awakening (1790-1830’s). God moved through him powerfully to bring many to the Lord. Yet he knew that his preaching was not enough. He knew the importance of prayer.

Daniel Nash was a Presbyterian minister better know as Father Nash. He was a man of prayer. For the last seven years of his life he became a personal intercessor for Finney. He was later joined by Abel Clary.

Nash would go to a town a couple of weeks before Finney was scheduled to preach. He would try and find two or three people who would join him in prayer and begin to intercede.

He would pray for God to come and move in the hearts of the people preparing them to receive the word of God Finney would preach. He would pray for hours at a time, sometimes days.

There is a story of a concerned owner of a boarding house that came to Finney when he arrived in town. She spoke of how Nash had not been out of his room for three days. He had not been down to eat and she heard groaning in his room.

She decided to check in on him to make sure he was alright. All who were in the room were lying prostrate on the floor and groaning in prayer.

Nash would make a prayer list where he would pray for people every day, sometimes multiple times a day. He would choose the worst sinners in the region and pray for their salvation. His prayers brought great results.

Nash and his companions prayed until they broke through and then they continued to pray. They rarely attended any of the meetings because they were praying. God heard their prayers.

I believe God has heard my prayers. He will make it manifest in His own good time that He has heard me. I have recorded my petitions that when God has answered them, His name will be glorified.
                                                                                                                     -----George Muller-----

Praying Positively

I’ve been involved in weekly prayer meetings for well over thirty years. Some of them were good and others not so good.

There was a season in our church prayer meetings when it seemed that all we did was focus on the negative. The prayers would go something like this:

Lord, the world is getting worse. There is so much darkness. People are being killed in all the wars. Drugs are on the rise. Abuse is rampant. Kids are committing suicide. Oh God, we need Your help. Etc. Etc. Etc.

I call this type of prayer “complaining prayer.” It is when we give God a list of all the evil that is going on in the world and feel overwhelmed and somewhat helpless to do anything about it. We are despairing that things are so bad and so bleak. The world is just continually getting worse and worse.

I would come into the prayer meetings feeling pretty good and go home feeling somewhat depressed. I started wanting to skip the prayer meetings so that I wouldn’t have to hear this type of prayer. I never skipped a meeting, but I wanted to.

I know that there are prayers of complaint throughout the Bible. Many of them are in the book of Psalms. So I started to look into these prayers to figure out what is going. I saw that David had quite a few Psalms of complaint.

David had terrible things going on in his life. There were may foes trying to kill him and he would complain to the Lord. I started noticing that there was a trend in how David prayed.

Then it hit me. When David poured out his emotions to the Lord he would always end it with his absolute confidence that God was going to protect him. God would not allow his feet to slip or his enemies to capture and kill him. He could lay down in sleep and peace because God would protect him.

That changed everything. I put together a sheet to hand out and encourage people to pray positively. Instead of focusing on the negative, I encouraged us to focus on the positive.

Praying the Solution

Instead of praying the problem, we would pray God’s solution.

When we only focus on evil, we allow the evil of the world and the works of the enemy to be the focus and the thing that moves our prayer. We are now responding to darkness rather than responding to the Lord. Evil sets our prayer agenda, not the Lord.

Jesus never allowed circumstances to dictate His movements. He was directed by the Spirit.

I began to see that we could pray the solution rather than the problem. Instead of praying negatively about what we wanted to see stop, we could pray positively for the things we wanted to see happen. This changed everything.

I think that this is partly what Jesus meant when He told the disciples to pray “Thy Kingdom come Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

We are to see what God is up to in heaven and pray for that to be accomplished on the earth. We pray and declare the positive and powerful things that God wants to do in the lives of people.

I relearned this lesson a couple of weeks ago. In studying 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, I began to pray for a couple of friends. I wanted to destroy all of the strongholds I thought were holding them back in their walk with Jesus.

I began to pray for this negative thing to break off of their life and for that negative thing to go. After I finished I felt somewhat dirty as if I had done something wrong. It was not pleasant. I was focusing on the negative rather than the positive.

That little episode got me thinking again about praying positively. I would never pray the prayer I prayed at home in public for it would dishonor my friends and bring focus on their shortcomings (we all have them, including me). I had to pray a different way. I had to pray positively. I had to pray the solution.

Praying with Paul

This incident got me thinking about the prayers of Paul. Many years ago I heard a teaching by Mike Bickle on Apostolic Prayer. He mentioned the many different places where the apostles would pray for the churches they were writing to.

I decided to do more research and found a pdf called “Key Apostolic Prayers and Prophetic Promises.” It is a two-page list of scriptures that the apostles prayed for believers in the church. (Click here to see the list)

These prayers are definitely praying the solution in a positive way. They are very encouraging and if you want to you can pray them for me. I am all for it.

Below I have a prayer that combines many of the passages in the list into a prayer that we can pray for those we desire to see grow in God. I believe we can pray this prayer over believers or unbelievers since we are praying the solution.

We are asking God to open a person’s eyes to give him or her wisdom and understanding about God, about His love, about His call on their life, about His power that is working in them, to mention a few.

This is exactly what I needed. I can pray this prayer in front of anyone and for anyone without any inhibition. It is what God desires for the person. It is the word of God that does not return void.

A Prayer You Can Pray

Here it is. Check it out and see what you think:

A Prayer to Demolish Strongholds
For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful​

Father, I thank you for _____. I pray that You would give her a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge You.(1) I ask that You would open the eyes of her heart and enlighten her to know the hope of Your calling and the riches of the glory of Your inheritance in the saints.(2)

God, I thank you for the freedom You are giving _______ as You are transforming her from glory to glory into Your image through the power of the Holy Spirit.(3) I thank You for transforming her by the renewing of her mind.(4)

In the name of Jesus, I cast down every lofty thing in _____ mind that would exalt itself against a true knowledge of You(5) and replace it with increasing knowledge of Yourself.(6) May every stronghold of the false speculations of man be destroyed(7) and be replaced by the truth of the gospel that manifests the power of Your salvation.(8)

I pray that ____ would take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ(9) and be anxious for nothing but instead pray with thanksgiving to You.(10) May her mind dwell and think upon whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, and is excellent and worthy of praise.(11)

I ask that _____ be strengthened with power through the Holy Spirit in her inner man so she might be rooted and grounded in love.(12) May she comprehend what is the breadth, and length, and height, and depth(13) and be filled up to the fullness of You.(14)

I pray that she would take up Your full armor (the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, and the sword of the Spirit) to stand against the schemes of the devil.(15)

May she be strong in You and in the power of Your might.(16) May she know the surpassing greatness of Your power according to the working of the strength of Your might(17) and so be strengthened with all power according to Your glorious might.(18)

May she experience the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge.(19) and be filled with the knowledge of Your will all spiritual wisdom and knowledge.(20) May her love abound more and more in real knowledge and discernment, so she might approve those things that are excellent.(21)

May Christ dwell in her heart by faith(22) so she might experience Your peace that passes all understanding.(23) I pray that she might walk in a manner worthy of the Lord:(24) sincere and blameless,(25) pleasing You in all respects,(26) bearing fruit for every good work,(27) attaining steadfastness and patience,(28) proving Your good, acceptable, and perfect will for her life.(29)

(1) Eph. 1:17, (2) Eph. 1:18, (3) 2 Cor. 3:17-18, (4) Rom. 12:2, (5) 2 Cor. 10:3, (6) Col. 1:10, (7) 2 Cor. 10:3, (8) Rom. 1:16, (9) 2Cor. 10:3, (10) Phil. 4:6, (11) Phil. 4:8, (12) Eph. 3:17, (13) Eph. 3:18, (14) Eph. 3:19,   (15) Eph. 6:11-17, (16) Eph. 6:10, (17) Eph. 1:19, (18) Col. 1:11, (19) Eph. 3:19, (20) Col. 1:9, (21) Phil.1:9-10, (22) Eph. 3:17, (23) Phil. 4:7, (24) Col. 1:10, (25) Phil. 1:10, (26) Col. 1:10, (27) Col. 1:10, (28) Col. 1:11, (29) Rom. 12:2

Would you like to have a PDF version of this pray on your own computer? Just click below.

How to Use This Prayer

Be Led by the Spirit

I want to give you some ideas about how you can use this prayer. The first is that you be led by the Spirit in using it. Reading through this prayer will do little if it is not accompanied with faith and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Prayer is not a magical thing where if we repeat this prayer enough times it will come true. Prayer is uniting your heart with God and interceding for others to come to a knowledge of the truth.

We are asking God that the people we are praying for will experience the fullness that Christ has made available to them. We are seeking to break any fortresses or any other barriers that stand in the way of their growth in Christ.

Pray it Verbatim

The Lord may lead you to pray this prayer verbatim. After all it is Scripture. We are being mentored by Paul on how to effectively pray for people. All the areas we are praying for will lead to positive growth and increase in people’s lives.

We can even pray this prayer over cities, states, nations, and the world. All the things we are praying are what God desires for all people. We know that he desires everyone to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

This prayer will break barriers and release the blessing of the Lord upon people’s lives. Your prayers will join with the prayers of others and contribute to many coming to the Lord.

Expand on a Section of the Prayer

Take one concept or one paragraph from the prayer above and focus on it. We are asking for very specific things in a broad sense. You could always spend more time on a topic and pray more in depth for a person.

For example, you could take the second sentence of the prayer, “I pray that You would give her a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge You.” Some additional things you could pray might be:

  • Pray that they be drawn to the word of God and as they read He would give them revelation of who He is.
  • Pray that the presence of the Lord would overshadow them and they would recognize that it is God and open up their heart to Him.
  • Pray that anything they have learned of the Lord in the past would rise up in them and produce a longing for God.
  • Pray that any misconceptions they may have of God would be exposed so the person might reject them as false.

Pray and Believe Until You Get the Answer

Some people teach that if you pray a prayer more than once it is unbelief. I disagree.

Jesus taught us to persevere in prayer. We are to pray until we know that we have received the answer. Once we have received the confirmation from God in our hearts that it is finished, we can begin to thank Him for the answer.

Many times as we are praying God will say, “It is finished.” We can then rejoice and wait confidently for what He has promised He will do. Sometimes it may take years for the promise to manifest.

God is faithful. He will do what He says. He may not do it as fast as we would like, but He will do it.

I’ll give you the Reader’s Digest version of the story about my son, Joshua. When he was a teenager he rebelled against the Lord. This caused great tension in our family.

Both Suzette and I were praying (in separate rooms) “complaining prayers” that focused on all the bad stuff he was doing. We brought up to God the stress that was being placed upon our family. I even considered quitting the ministry because if I could not manage my own household and keep my own son in submission, how could I care for God’s church? (1 Timothy 3:4-5).

That day God showed up to both Suzette and me as we were “prayer complaining” and brought correction to us. He spoke to Suzette and said, “What do I have against your son?”

She felt the rebuke of the Lord and instantly knew that the complaining was over. We could no longer pray this way to the Lord for our son. He then gave both of us an assurance that He had heard our prayers (even though they were misdirected) and that it was finished. Josh would serve the Lord.

We instantly changed from prayer complaining to thanking Jesus for the answer to our prayers even though our son's actions did not change. It took ten years for him to return to the Lord. Today, Josh is the worship leader at our church.

It is not enough to begin to pray, nor to pray aright; nor is it enough to continue for a time to pray; but we must patiently, believingly, continue in prayer until we obtain an answer; and further we have not only to continue in prayer unto the end, but we have also to believe that God does hear us, and will answer our prayers. Most frequently we fail in not continuing in prayer until the blessing is obtained, and in not expecting the blessing.
                                                                                                                     -----George Muller-----

Next week we’ll look at the power of praying in the Spirit.

P.S. Is there someone you are praying for to come to a knowledge of the Lord? List their name below and let us join you in believing for their salvation.

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About the Author

Terry Tuinder is the co-founder of Experiencing His Victory. His experience includes thirty-one years of pastoral ministry, an earned Doctor of Ministry degree from The King's University, and nineteen years involvement in deliverance ministry. He helps people grow in their relationship with God.